Hemp and Cannabis in Canada

For a thorough, entertaining and spectacularly illustrated history of Cannabis in Canada, please refer to “Cannabis in Canada, the Illustrated History” by Dana Larsen, illustrated by Patrick Dowers, and available at many places including www.cannabishistory.ca.

"Cannabis indica (Indian hemp) or hasheesh" Is added to the schedule of proscribed drugs in Canada. At that point, any progress being made in decortication also stops. Now think of the advances in materials, machinery, and manufacturing practices from 1923 until now.

1923

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1970

The Trudeau government appointed a Royal Commission to examine drug use. Two years and $4 million later, the LeDain commission recommended that possession and cultivation of cannabis should become legal for personal use, but no commercial activity until more research could be done. The government pretty much ignored the report and its recommendations.

Dr. Ernest Small, a botanist working for Agriculture Canada publishes a book, ‘Species Problem in Cannabis’ on different types of cannabis. To distinguish Cannabis from Hemp there should be something we can point to. Dr. Small decides that the demarcation between cannabis and hemp should be drawn on the relative strength of the psychoactive ingredient, THC. He arbitrarily selected 0.3% THC. This later became embodied in laws around the world.

1971

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1993

Geof Kime and Joe Strobel obtained permission from Health Canada to grow hemp on a trial basis. They wanted to establish if it would grow and what they could do with it. They grew four hectares (about ten acres) in 1994, down from the 120 hectares they had applied for. Interestingly, they saw the future of hemp as fibre, and strived to get it out in this form. A major obstacle to their activity was the lack of machinery for separating the long bast fibres from the short hurd fibres.

The ground for hemp farming was literally and figuratively broken. The movement to legalize hemp had gained steam and by the spring of 1998, laws were enacted to allow commercial hemp harvesting. 2,400 hectares were planted the first year and in 1999 over 14,000 hectares were planted (in an abundance of enthusiasm). Virtually all the (legal) growth until 2018 was for hemp seed for food purposes.

1998

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2001

Marihuana Medical Access Regulations (MMAR) provided Canadians with a license to grow and possess their own cannabis for medical purposes. This came about in a landmark Supreme Court of Canada ruling. Terry Parker, a citizen with severe epilepsy, had been charged and convicted of illegal possession and cultivation of cannabis. He was exonerated upon appeal.The Supreme Court decided his rights to liberty and security of the person under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms had been violated. Under this new legislation physicians were empowered to approve cannabis for their patients by filling out a confidential form for Health Canada approval. Approvals were based on need during end-of-life care or for specific illnesses. The approved illnesses included epilepsy, Multiple Sclerosis, cancer, HIV/AIDS, spinal cord injury, and severe arthritis.

Back on the hemp front, the Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance was formed, to represent the interests of the hemp growers and industry. Bruce Ryan, President of CannaSystems and Ruth Shamai, Researcher and Writer at CannaSystems, were both at the table and active in the creation of CHTA.

2003

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2013-2015

The MMAR was replaced in 2013 by The Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR), which concerned the production, distribution and use of medical cannabis.

Bruce Ryan receives a request to provide a small quantity of hemp fibre for a potential customer. This begins Bruce’s quest to find a hemp decortication solution. CannaSystems website is created.

2015

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2016

MMPR was struck down as unconstitutional by the Federal Courts due to the inability for patients to grow their own medicine and replaced with the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR).

Cannabis is legalized for adult use throughout Canada. Only flower may be purchased, and only through licensed dispensaries (this varies by province) or up to 4 plants per dwelling may be grown. Many people still apply for, and receive their ACMPR designation, so that they may grow as much as they want and use it regardless of their age. Critically for hemp farmers, regulatory requirements like annual police background checks are eliminated, making it easier to become a hemp farmer in Canada.

October 17, 2018

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October 17, 2018

CannaSystems Canada Inc. is formally incorporated after a couple of years effort working on Bruce’s original task. We decided that legalization day in Canada was an auspicious day to officially create the company.

The Cannabis Act is expanded further to include concentrates, beverages and edibles.

2019

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2019 and 2020 Season

Farmers in Canada planted 92,000 acres in 2019, and 55,000 acres in 2020.

Health Canada Statistics

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